Even today the word ‘menstruation’ is surrounded by stigma and talked about with hesitation. People of Apithi village in Odisha are no exception. With similar apprehensions the village women were unable to talk about their menstrual health and hygiene till Team Goonj reached Apithi to conduct a NJPC session. Initially, the women were shy and embarrassed but soon they opened up about their issues. According to them, one of the main problems was the unavailability of bathrooms. The villagers bathe in the Bhargavi river, which is very close to the main road, thus the constant presence of people made the village women uncomfortable to bathe and change clothes.
Goonj, during the visit, suggested setting up bathroom-like structures near the river which could provide the women the private space needed for bathing and changing. This idea was immediately welcomed by the women and within two days they made two bathrooms for themselves. “Earlier, when we went to take a bath in the river, we felt awkward. But, we didn’t say anything because nobody listens to our problems. It was Goonj who identified our problem and suggested a solution, which was immediately executed,” said Suchitra Biswal, a local resident. With this, the women of Apithi have created a safe environment on their own for themselves.